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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The trouble with Michael Ledeen 


Michael Ledeen is an enormously inconvenient person. He simply will not allow us to wish this war away:

Victor says we should first stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, but that's skipping a step. It is impossible so long as the mullahs rule in Tehran and Assad commands in Damascus. It is a regional war. If we continue to misunderstand it, if we remain locked in this fundamental error of strategic vision, we will endlessly respond to our enemies' initiatives, playing defense in one place after another. Today in Iraq and Afghanistan, tomorrow in Lebanon, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopea and Eritrea (that is the mullahs' game plan), then in Israel and Europe, and finally here at home. We do not need intelligence agencies to know this, all we need to do is listen to our enemies, who announce it at the top of their lungs.

There is no escape from this war, and we haven't even begun to wage it. Once we do, we will find that we've got many political and economic weapons, most of them inside our enemies' lands. I entirely agree with Victor that Iran and Syria are fragile, brittle, and anxious. They know their people hate them, and they know that revolution could erupt if we supported it.

Of course, as Victor says, our leaders may be so demoralized that we could just surrender in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the realists and the antisemites desire. But that would only delay the reckoning, and ensure that the war will be far bloodier. Sigh.

I would love to believe that Michael is wrong about this, but it is an inconvenient truth that Islamic extremists -- including particularly the Islamic Republic of Iran (which has waged war against us) and the Sunni jihadists (who have overtly declared war against us) -- have been quite clear about their desire to convert us or destroy us. We know what they want to do. The only question is whether they will acquire the means to do it. It is easy to doubt that they will, because it has been a long time since Muslims were effective at projecting military power (as opposed to defending their own turf), but what if technology makes it possible again? Will we regret not having a grand strategy to contain Iran and promote the, er, revision of the regime? How can any intellectually honest person reject the possibility that a national failure of vision and nerve will in the future cost us and the world dearly?

15 Comments:

By Blogger mledeen, at Tue Nov 28, 10:16:00 PM:

thanks Hawk, I knew there was a reason I rooted so hard for Princeton...

yes, we're going to regret it. bigtime. confound it. it's the most maddening thing i've ever lived through. everybody knows the iranians are all over us in iraq and afghanistan, but nobody wants to deal with it.

no wonder general hayden says that the iranians feel triumphant.  

By Blogger Doug, at Wed Nov 29, 12:46:00 AM:

Aside from the fact that the *real* inconvenient truth is unstoppable global warming, (and therefore only Algore can stop it.)
I'm not sure what the big problem is here:
After all, Sandra Day O’Connor and Vernon Jordan are on the case, so a solution will be forthcoming.

All that's needed is a more patient attitude!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 29, 02:08:00 AM:

Iran has been at war with you ????
It was the US/UK intervention (called operation Ajax) in 1953 that removed the ELECTED GOVERNMENT of Iran in order to put the SHAW back in place. Their elected government had comitted the attrocious sin of nationalizing their OWN oil, so the US had to do something (since when do they think it was THEIR oil !). The bloody and repressive regime of the Shaw, backed by the US, is what led to the Iranian revolution. And the hostage crisis happened when the US gave the Shaw (A BLOODY TYRANT) refuge in the US after they liberated themselve from US / UK backed oppression.

Just like Saddam, I can't believe the hypocrisy of the US who helped him gain power in the 50's (to prevent the evil communist of gaining influence there), helped him kill millions of Iranian in their war against that country (by providing him WMD)... and now you have the total hypocrisy of "liberating" the Iraqi from Saddam when he stops following the orders from Washington.

If there's a country at war with the Iranian people since the 40's, it's the US, not the opposite. You created the problem of Iran and now you think you're going to solve it ? The Iranian are not a bunch of morons who don't know their history.

I have a solution for the US to solve all their problem in the Middle East. GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS !!!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 29, 04:23:00 AM:

Anonymous,

How far back in history do you want to go? How long must we remain idle to atone for past sins? Should we have stayed the fuck out of WWII? Korea? Afghanistan? The dirty little secret is that everywhere the US exports security, the region subsequently thrives. Ask the hundreds of thousands of dead in Southeast Asia if our pulling out was a good idea or not.

Iran is waging war with us every day here in Baghdad, killing Sunnis and American soldiers -- covertly and in most cases indirectly -- but they are here. Show me a recent example of the opposite and maybe we can talk.

TigerHawk, I believe you're asking the wrong question. In my opinion, the days of "containment" are over. In the era of globalization, such a grand strategy is destined to fail, and is ultimately what the religious leaders want.

Islam in general is at a crossroads in its development as a religion. There are factions -- including the mullahs in Iran -- that want to turn the clock back and disengage from the developed world that is "threatening" their religion. A bi-polar standoff is exactly what they want/need to maintain power and the efficacy of their religious message. Think Kim Jong Il, who maintains power only because he has scared his people to death that the US will invade at any moment.

Instead of asking how we effectively contain Iran, which will improve nothing and in all likelyhood make things worse, we should be asking how to effectively engage Iran primarily at an economic level. Kill them with connectivity is a favorite theme of Thomas Barnett, and I believe he has the right angle on Iran. Ultimately we want them to progress, not regress, and hundreds of Wal-Mart stores are a much better answer than hundreds of guided missles.

-occasiaonal reader currently deployed to OIF  

By Anonymous charlz, at Wed Nov 29, 09:05:00 AM:

<"I have a solution for the US to solve all their problem in the Middle East. GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS !!!

By Anonymous, at Wed Nov 29, 02:08:57 AM " > It is our business when Islamists threaten our extinction.

There is yet one other possibility that may eventuate. When patience runs out and we feel our backs are against the wall, we'll just nuke 'em off the face of the earth and be done with 'em. Think Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki - then add Teheran and Damascus or even Bagdad.

Some folks and their oil are more trouble than they're worth.  

By Anonymous n.a. palm, at Wed Nov 29, 09:54:00 AM:

Ledeen is right. Anonymous (1) is a fool. btw, Ledeen left out Indonesia from his list of global threats caused by terrorist islam.

According to Bernard Lewis, the one thing that gets their (terrorists) attention, is violent retribution from us. They are cowards by nature.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 29, 11:58:00 AM:

Did man arrive at this spot in history through compromise or conquest? the answer is plainly conquest. everything else being discussed is window dressing. The bottom line is the pre-amble to Stanley Kubrick's 2001:A Space Odyssey. Iranians view the world today as an us/them proposition just as we viewed it in 1945. I exist today because of Truman's decision to spare 100's of thousands of young men from having to storm the beaches of Japan. My dad's amphibious assault training was abruptly cancelled after Hiroshima. The world is an us/them proposition and has been since the time of Beowulf.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 29, 12:01:00 PM:

Anonymous is a fool. Not only is his "reasoning" absurd, he doesn't even get basic facts (and spellings: "the SHAW"! Good Lord!) right.

The Iranians might or might not have been entitled to nationalize oil industries working on their soil -- but certainly not without compensating the affected private companies for their seized assets. Everything else amounts to pure theft.

Even if one accepts the premise, at least for the sake of the argument, that it was indeed "the bloody ... regime of the Shaw [here we go again] ... that led to the Iranian revolution", this cannot explain or justify why the "revolutionaries" installed a regime and a system much more cruel and oppressive than the one they overthrew. Evidently they were not unhappy with oppression per se, but rather with who oppressed whom for which reasons. Nobody forced the "revolutionaries" to install a system of Islamic Messianic Fascism. They could have opted for building a freedom-oriented, liberal state. Yet they chose Islamic Fascism. The blame for this is entirely on them.

As to Saddam, he did not gain power in the 50s. He rose to a position of prominence only in the late 60s, and his leading role in the Iraqi entity was only formally enshrined, in successive steps, over the course of the 70s.

Moreover, if anything he rose to prominence with the aid of the Soviets, not the US, which was wary of his belligerent nationalist and socialist rhetoric (now here you have a fine combination!) after the the Arab desaster of the Six Days War in 1967. After all, it was Saddam who in this time pushed for Iraqi nationalisation of foreign oil assets in the country, with the avowed goal of using the newfound oil wealth for expanding and upgrading the military.

Then, after the 1973 war, the US was the only Western country which formally severed diplomatic relations with Saddam's Iraq. Relations were only restored in 1984, in the middle of the war with Iran when the US faced an unpleasant choice between two unpalatable regimes. (It was in this context that the much maligned early Rumsfeld visit to Bagdad took place.) However, Saddam launched his war against Iran with Russian and French weaponry: Remember those MIG fighter planes and Exocet rockets?

Therefore it was precisely during the era of NO US-Iraq relations that Saddam cemented his power in the Iraqi entity -- and began its abuse in earnest.

The only time the US somewhat supported Saddam was between 1984 and 1990. But hey, when did raving ignoramuses ever let facts get in their way?

Andreas (Germany)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 29, 12:29:00 PM:

Just as an aside, from Wikipedia:
"Stark was deployed to the Middle East Force in 1984 and 1987. The ship was struck on May 17, 1987, by two Exocet antiship missiles fired from an Iraqi Mirage F1 fighter during the Iran-Iraq War."

The Mirage F1 and the Exocet anti-ship missiles used in the attack on the Stark were from...France!

We might also remember that during the '80's, someone (remember Ollie North?) negotiated secret sales of parts for Hawk AA-missiles and TOW anti-tank missiles, supplied through...Israel! Then, we would re-supply the Israelis. So actually, we probably did more to militarily support Iran in the Iran-Irag war, at one point (1984-85?).

And this, dear friends, is the face of "realist" foreign policy; playing both ends against the middle (the middle being OUR interest). And lookee how good that worked. What a freakin' success story. Turn the page.
-David  

By Anonymous MTF, at Wed Nov 29, 01:13:00 PM:

It is easy to doubt that they will, because it has been a long time since Muslims were effective at projecting military power (as opposed to defending their own turf), but what if technology makes it possible again?

Those who argue we don't need to worry about the nuclear destruction of midtown Manhattan say something like this most frequently, in objecting to arguments proposing or promoting armed combat against jihadists and their enablers. Viewed objectively, though, I think the main lesson of the last twenty-five of conflict against Islamists is that this is completely and totally wrong.

Jihadists have had little difficulty in projecting their combat capability to Tehran, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beirut, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the horn of Africa, southern Africa, New York City, Washington DC, the fields of rural Pennsylvania, upstate New York, the west coast of the U.S., Argentina, France, England, Russia, the Caucases, Turkey, the Balkans, Spain etc etc.

All they lack right now is the nuclear capability itself. They have the money, the delivery means, the strategic initiative, and the will to use the weapons. Achieving possession of the bombs themselves will likely not be an issue, given time.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Nov 29, 07:11:00 PM:

"And lookee how good that worked. What a freakin' success story."

It did work, genius. The whole point of that was to make sure that neither Iran nor Iraq won the war and became a dominant power. They slaughtered millions of each others citizens and ruined their economies... for nothing. It was a draw.

Success.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Nov 30, 02:03:00 PM:

No one is trying to wish this war away except the bloody "intelligensia".

The folks on the pointy end of the spear understand all too well what we're fighting and why we can't afford to lose. But then when has it ever been any different?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 30, 02:16:00 PM:

Dawnfire,
Perhaps you should consider that, in the light of present events in Iraq, that the Iran-Iraq War is STILL going on, in the minds and strtegies of the Iranian mullahs, at least. This is, in effect, the "30-years War" that people think is going to 'reform' Islam (as in the Protestant Reformation in Europe).
Hardly. It will harden wills, determination and bloodlust.

The whole point of the Iranian effort (then and now, and into the forseeable future) is to broaden their influence, by hook or by crook, in the ME.
Choosing between Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam Hussein was a pretty ugly one in the '80's, and the US intervening militarily wouldn't pass muster in the 1980's. But I can hardly think of the policy then as a "success", in terms of the fruit that it has born in the present. That's what I sarcastically meant as a "freakin' success story".
Kicking the can down the road doesn't solve anything (the "realists", like Scowcroft and Baker, students of Kissinger). It just gives a thornier problem to the future
The Ayatollahs of Iran are still bent on making the ME submit to their will.
Unlike Michael Ledeen, who believes that the Iranians can find their way to political reformation, I personally think these people have to be taught a very sharp military lesson and be soundly defeated and humiliated. But that isn't going to happen any time soon; probably another ten years, at least, when both my sons are "draft" age.

-David  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Nov 30, 07:34:00 PM:

Ah, but you're considering the situation in a vacuum. In the 1980's, Iran was the Muslim wave of the future. The first overwhelmingly successful Islamist revolution in a relatively modern state, with tank divisions and air fleets and missiles. The war with Iraq (though both sides blamed the other for starting it, it was kind of a consensual war) was a deliberate attempt to, as you said, expand Iranian power and influence to dominate the Gulf.

The dual containment policy was designed to prevent them from doing so, yet also prevent Iraq (who was too close to the USSR for comfort; and despite modern leftist propaganda got FAR more support from France and the Soviets that they ever hoped to get from us) from winning decisively.

If Iran had won the war, which by all rights it should have by about 1987, the Mid East would be even uglier than it is today. The Arab states, and the Gulf ones in particular, largely funded Iraq's war effort because they were deathly afraid of Iran rolling across the deserts like the old Persian Empire, and with the theocratic nature of Iran and weird rivalry between the two great sects of Islam, a multi-state Sunni-Shi'i "30 Years War" wouldn't be beyond imagination.

Regional oil production would be crippled, millions would be dead, mass numbers of refugees, religious pogroms and massacres, et cetera.

So, given that such a nightmare scenario never came to bear and our regional intentions were achieved, I'd say that dual containment was a success. There's no way that the policy makers back then could have forseen the events of 20 years later, and it's unfair to hold them to account for them.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 03, 09:38:00 PM:

put the SHAW back in place

Should we really listen to someone who mispells Shah?  

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